Do British or Irish citizens need permission to reside in the respective countries?

27 Jun 2024, 32 mins ago

If you are looking to reside in Ireland as a British citizen or in the UK as an Irish citizen, you may be wondering whether you need a permission to do so, especially after Brexit.

Travel after Brexit

Unsurprisingly, Brexit has had a significant impact on the travel and movement of goods, services and people between the UK and the Eurozone. However, very little attention has been paid to the travel dynamics between the UK and Ireland, which is the closest EU country to the UK. We’re seeing a significant amount of confusion from Irish and British citizens who wish to travel between the two countries.

Travel between Ireland and the UK

Britain and Ireland have always had a unique relationship underpinned by several different mutual arrangements. For example, following the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, a variety of structures have been implemented to preserve the mutual rights of British and Irish citizens who wish to travel, live and work in Ireland and the UK.

Thankfully, the establishment of the Common Travel Area (CTA), which is an arrangement between the UK, the Crown Dependencies and Ireland, pre-dates the UK and Ireland’s EU memberships and is not dependent on either party’s relationship with the EU.

The CTA grants British and Irish citizens various rights of travel. In May 2019, both the UK and Irish governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding reaffirming their commitment to the CTA.

Travel rights for British and Irish citizens

The specific legislation applicable to Irish citizens is outlined in section 1(3) of the Immigration Act 1971, which states that people travelling from the Republic Ireland to the UK are not subject to immigration control. In addition, paragraph 15 of the Immigration Rules and section 9 of the Immigration Act 1971 also contain relevant provisions applicable to the CTA.

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2020 (the ‘Bill’), which was implemented as part of post-Brexit legislation and measures, also contains passages directly addressing the movement of Irish citizens to the UK. Under section 2 of the Bill, “An Irish citizen does not require leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom”.

As per the CTA, British and Irish citizens can move, work, study and reside freely in Ireland and Britain due to a special status awarded by the national law to citizens of both countries. This means no visa, passport or other permission to enter, remain or leave is necessary.

In essence, Irish citizens are treated as settled in the UK for immigration purposes, and they are granted the same travel rights as British citizens. This also means, that no documents will be required to enter the UK from those travelling by land.


While this arrangement has eliminated the need to present your passport to Border Force agents in Ireland or in the UK, you may still be asked to show a document confirming your identity and nationality.

Additionally, different rules apply if you do not have British or Irish citizenship. For example, if you are travelling into the UK from Ireland or another part of the CTA, you may need to secure permission to enter the country.

The 2020 Bill also includes limitations to the rights of Irish citizens who are subject to a deportation order, exclusion decision, international travel ban, etc. Such persons cannot travel freely and will have to abide by special provisions.

How Gherson can assist

Gherson’s Immigration Team are highly experienced in advising on UK visa matters. If you have any questions arising from this article, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, or send us an e-mail. Don’t forget to follow us on XFacebookInstagram, or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date on the latest developments.

The information in this article is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

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